‘American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally’ reveals a lot about Portland native traitor

Al Pacino in a scene from “American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally” 2021. IMDb photo

Finally, we know what happened to Al Pacino.

He didn’t die in Sicily with that puppy sniffing around his hat.

Beside his run as a Nazi hunter in “Hunters” on television, he was in Puerto Rico.

In “American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally,” Pacino stars as lawyer James Laughlin (Al eventually became Irish), who is a veteran Washington lawyer tasked with defending one of America’s most unfriendly Americans. Second World War. Her name: Mildred Gillars, better known at the time of your grandfather as “Axis Sally”.

Gillars, born in Portland, Maine, moved to Germany in 1934 and quickly found work there as a radio host. By 1942, its English broadcasts had turned shamelessly political. Bursting with Nazi propaganda, Axis Sally sought to make Americans fighting on European battlefields nostalgic and confused.

Gillars, played here by blonde starlet Meadow Williams, who her press says came to Hollywood from a Tennessee farm in the 1980s and starred, among other things, in “A Place Among the Dead.”

Williams bravely struggles by being raped by Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels and testing Al Pacino’s patience, and her scenes play an American woman and part-time actress, living in Berlin at the start of World War II. , who promoted herself to a job, reading soft talk propaganda for the Nazis.

The drama about his life, directed by Michael Polish (“Twin Falls Idaho”), is based on a semi-interesting screenplay co-written by Vance Owen, himself based on his father Bill’s book. The book must be better.

For GIs in foxholes, Axis Sally was mostly a joke. They laughed at her cheesy pleas for them to drop their guns and go home.

Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Goebbels was in real life for the British and American journalists who met him, an oily icon of evil, with snake eyes and Caligula’s table manners. Here in the Polish film, he is played by Thomas Kretschmann, simply as a well-dressed thug businessman playing with a gold cigarette case.

This reviewer found Vance Owen and Darryl Hicks’ script a sincere attempt to shed some light on a sordid part of the story, while still making a few bucks.

With hundreds of movies to cover, you might wonder why I chose this clunker. It’s because I’m a fan of the great Al Pacino. I watched him play Elvis Presley in a retirement home dinner theater production.

No matter what he does that isn’t up to the task, I close my eyes and remember that moment in “The Godfather: Part III” where he sees his daughter shot in front of him. He looks up to heaven as if to curse God; and, head thrown back, mouth agape, the first notes of her cry die in her throat.

That, and his defining performance in “Dog Day Afternoon” reminds us of what Pacino is capable of.

JP Devine de Waterville is a former theater and film actor.

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